What makes a good care home?

February 23, 2018

In Jenni Mack

According to the Office of National Statistics, the population in the UK is getting older with 18% aged 65 and over, and 2.4% aged 85 and over. In 2016 there were 285 people aged 65 and over for every 1,000 people aged 16 to 64 years old.

With these facts in mind it’s understandable that care homes are big business in the UK today. But when faced with the often distressing task of finding a care home for someone you love it can be difficult to know what to look for, and how to know...

“What makes a good care home?”

Good quality care should be a given in this situation as it’s literally in the title; it’s like saying a carrier bag should be good at carrying things! If we look at the words Care and Home separately, the Oxford Dictionary provides the below definitions:

CARE: The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.

HOME: The place where one lives permanently.

However, a good care home should be far more than this. Basic human needs such as being kept warm, assistance with toileting, washing, eating and drinking are all physical needs, but mental needs are just as important. Being happy, content, stimulated, feeling safe and loved, being treated as the individual you are, having a say in your own care needs, and being listened to and respected, are above many other mental requirements of a person living in a care home.

When all the mental and emotional needs are met, many of the physical needs are far easier. Consider this…. If a person is happy, stimulated and feeling loved are they more or less likely to eat and sleep well? If a person feels safe and respected are they more or less likely to accept advice, medication or even, some restrictions, for their own safety and well-being? It is just common sense that meeting their emotional and mental needs is just as important as their physical needs.

So, how do we manage to meet the mental and emotional needs of those in our care?

This is also simply answered. We CARE about them. We get to know them, and find out about the individual inside and not just their age, or diagnosis. Every person on the planet is different, so when someone is diagnosed with a condition such as dementia, it is our job to ensure their individuality isn’t taken away. 

A person should never become their diagnosis; they are still who they always were, and their life experiences, preferences and memories (although some of this can change or be lost) essentially shape how their diagnosis effects them now. Person centered care is on the lips of all health professionals at the moment, but what does that really mean and how do we achieve it? In simple terms it means individual care with THE PERSON at the centre of it. 

Tommy Whitelaw (BCAh Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland) recently quoted "Nothing about me without me!" which essentially means that all aspects of a person’s care should be discussed WITH them, including those who are assessed to be without capacity; they should still be considered and spoken TO and not ABOUT when aspects of their care are being deliberated.

This also means that no person in a care home should receive exactly the same care or experience as another resident. If we think about this further, no two people are exactly the same, even if they were born on the same day, of the same year, and have the same diagnosis. When care homes recognise the importance of this and staff are given adequate time to spend talking to residents, getting to know them, and listening to them; their wants, needs, even dreams and wishes, this is when person centred care can truly come into play. Understandably due to disability, age, or cost not all wants can be met, but a good care home should strive to meet as many of them as possible, no matter how far "out of the box" they may seem.

However, on another note, not every want or need is extravagant. Often just knowing that one resident takes milk and three sugars in their tea, and another prefers coffee with a splash of cold water and no milk means so much. Institutionalisation, where every resident is served tea with milk and sugar regardless of their personal preference, may not seem like a big deal, but it is essentially robbing someone of their individuality, and giving the impression that what they want/like doesn't really matter anymore. 

These type of scenarios can lead to depression,aggression, noncooperation, disruptive sleeping patterms, falls, anxiety.... the list goes on. Seems like more of a big deal now eh?

When people think of a care home they tend to think of a group of old people sitting in a lounge staring blankly at walls or a TV screen with little or no stimulation. This should be the complete opposite. A good care home will be bright, colourful and bustling with life. Filled with staff who realise the job they do is so important; staff who provide a variety of activities and experiences throughout the day like pampering, games, baking and above all laughter.

When relatives and friends visit their loved ones, they should feel as though they are entering their loved one’s home, not a workplace or hospital. For this to happen a good care home should resemble a family home; warm, personalised, comfortable and inviting. 

Most care homes now have qualified nursing staff on site 24/7 and are therefore technically "nursing homes" but putting the word "care" in place of nursing suggests a less medically minded and more open approach to holistic and diverse types of care. A care programme that includes stimulation such as yoga, massage, pet therapy, sensory stimulation, aromatherapy, light therapy, social interactions and just "taking time" can keep residents engaged, happy and living life to the full.

So, in conclusion, how do we know a good care home?

You can FEEL it! In the love shown by staff, the laughter of residents, the warmth and consideration in the home décor, and the wealth of experiences available to all. Time management may sound like something from a business plan but it can be applied in a care home and indeed our own family homes. Take the TIME to be present. Show love and care to those around you, laugh more, be more understanding and in doing so, the home will be a much better place for everyone.

Jenni Mack, Activity Coordinator 

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Kind words from our residents and their families

Baytree Court

Baytree Court is a very relaxed home, pleasant staff and one of the nicest homes I visit, always get a smile. Service users seem happy.

Glenys Newbury - Health Care Community Worker

Almond View Care Home

To all the staff at Almond View - a big thank you for looking after Mum, with such kindness and dedication. Despite living 400 miles away, I always had a good feeling that she was in good hands. When I did visit, the staff without exception, stopped to chat to us even though they were extremely busy. Please accept my heart felt thank you to you all - a real credit to Almond View.


Bankview Care Home

Thank you for the excellent level of care that my father, Frank Boyle, has received. Bankview demonstrated for us the template for a care home and how it should feel and be run. Friendly, welcoming, excellent care levels, length of time staff remain loyal to the home and above all a clear and comforting atmosphere of great leadership.

Barbara and Jan

Social Work Department

Bankview Day care is welcoming and homely, meeting a wide range of needs with well trained staff and individual care for each client.

Bankview Day Care Centre

Bankview Day Care Centre

I understand why mum loves coming to Bank view Day-care it’s a home from home and the activities offered are excellent

J Campbell

Bankview Day Care Centre

The day care centre has made a huge difference to my life. Best thing I ever done, my week was boring now I have days out and shopping trips and good company.

R Burns

Baytree Court Care Home

We can not thank you enough for all the care, support and attention the staff at Baytree Court have given Marc. The staff have always given their time and support to us on visits which has meant a great deal.

Doreen and Yvonne

Beechwood Care Home

Both mum and I were most impressed with Beechwood and we have decided that is where we would like Dad to come to. You have put both mine and mum's minds at rest knowing that Dad will be looked after.

Thank You

Susan Gibson

K Macdonald in memory of my Aunt Jean

I can't exaggerate the admiration I have for the management and staff of Craigielea. I've never experienced so much patience, coaxing, kindness and care. These people share their lives and emotions, laugh and cry and mourn for the people who entrust themselves to care.

Craigielea Care Home

J Ellis in memory of Steve

The staff talked about my best friend being an inspiration to them, despite his illness It made me change my approach with him, instead of being despondent and sad, I spoke with him the way we had always been with each other. The staff saw him as a person.

Craigielea Care Home

Shelagh Goldie

My uncle, who is a retired GP, recently visited Dad on a trip over from Canada and commented that Craigielea is one of the best places he has ever seen in his experience of elderly care units. Very homely, calm, relaxing and wonderful staff. Keep up the fantastic work you do!


Grandholm Care Home

In all my visits I have been most impressed with the Care and Attention shown by all your staff, who are professional and courteous at all times. We are always welcomed with a friendly smile which makes us feel very much part of the home and being involved

J Barber

Grandholm Care Home

Please accept my sincere congratulations for performance and efficiency of Grandholm Care Home. The home provides a very professional, caring and motivational environment with an abundance of patience and understanding. The home is a credit to your team and one of the best in Aberdeen.

I McCormack

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